The Emperor is an equal delegate of the masculine aspect of nature to the Empress. He is considered to be her husband symbolizing also the creative process but not that of the sentiments but that of human determination. His world is filled with power and authority and not so much love.
His card is under the number four, a sign of the four elements (fire, water, earth, and air), the four seasons and the four rivers of the Garden of Eden.
It also signifies the cosmic Law and order under the square logic of an earthly system of values. His most intense qualities are logic, motivation and the representation of human life on earth, the symbol of ancient patriarchal societies.
In ancient Greek mythology, he is associated with the God Uranus that married the Goddess earth. Together they created the cosmos. The Emperor also has the power to create order from chaos and his energies work in parallel with those of his wife.
He is able to control all the physical and human restraints and he can rule using enduring patience and effort. He is a product of his environment and therefore he is using his senses as a tool for judgment. His decency and trust on real life events help him become the center of attention. He is eager to act on time using his rational thought and has complete authority over anything material as it is his creation. His powers even though they are those of a mortal are activating and developing all life around him. Stability, progress and impulsive achievements are the elements that could describe the Emperor briefly. He is a supporter for justice even under the risk of personal danger. His powers though are not limited to that; he can also offer advice and help others as much as possible to set direction.
Sitting on his throne, wearing a garment that looks like it is designed for ritual purposes, the Emperor is emphasizing the idea of authority and control. His masculine side, on the right, is signified by the Egyptian cross of life, a sign of male supremacy, the force for creating and maintaining everything that he constructs. His feminine side on the left is represented by a golden sphere, the symbol for the awareness of all of nature’s laws. It encourages him to organize and create systems of values. The balance of these two elements, spirit and mater, can help him achieve authority based on justice. His infertile surroundings are used metaphorically as a desolate masculinity that can only be fertilized by the grace of feminine refined virtues, those of the Empress.
When his figure appears in a Tarot reading it matches a fatherly figure that has great influence on the person interested. It is interpreted as stability, courage, protection, actualization, paternal assistance and power based on good intentions. It also emphasizes the need for mental dominance over sentimental decisions when it is necessary. This card suggests the essentiality for focus and concentration of the mind and the ability to control oneself. The emperor brings confidence and assertiveness. On the negative side if he appears placed upside down, he is a torturing tyrant and implies authority in its worst patriarchal form. His authority makes others dependent on him. The abuse of power over others is a concept that is usually present when the Emperor is reversed. It can also indicate lack of self-control, ambition and the ability to have any form of order in life. Chaos dominates structure and the reversed emperor is denoting the inability to deal with any kind of authority.